Category: Festivals

Chanukah and the Draydel

Let’s talk about draydels… you can spell it “draydel” or “dreidel”.
Do you know what a draydel is? Well, first of all, it is a four sided dancing top. Give it a twist, and it will dance and spin and prance and pirouette and when it’s out of energy,
The momentum will slow and the dancer will bow and then ever so gently fall – plop! On it’s NUN, GIMEL, Hay or SHIN side up.

Secondly, the dancing top has a magnificent story to tell us. Each of it’s four sides has one Hebrew letter. These letters stand for the Hebrew words “Nes Gadol Hayah Shim” – in English, this means “A great Miracle happened there.”

Tiny Israel, over 2000 years ago, was conquered by the Syrians (Greeks). The Israelis were not allowed to study Torah, circumcise their sons, learn Hebrew or practice their religion. After many, many years of this, a priestly family of Hasmonions from the little city of Mo’adim north of Jerusalem, started a revolution and after 3 years of “gorilla” warfare, they were able to take their country back! They were now free to worship G-d as they chose. They rededicated their Temple (chanukah means dedicate) and the story goes that there was only one bottle of consecrated oil to light the menorah in thev Temple – enough to last only one day. It is said it lasted a full eight days until more could be made!
That was the miracle. To me, the miracle was that a small dedicated-to G-d-and-His- Word group of soldiers won over the mighty army of their enemies!! We, as Believers today, have the same authority to win over the evil one in our lives. We can take back what we have lost and rededicate ourselves to the Lord! Isn’t that a great miracle?

These four letters make up a sprightly Chanukah game. Set a time limit for how long you want to play. Fifteen minutes might be right. Each player places an equal number of wrapped candies or ? in the center of a table. Seven would be good. Then the players sit around the table and take turns spinning the top and follows the instructions according to which letter is on top when the draydel stops.

NUN = nothing The player neither wins or loses anything.
GIMMEL = gets all
HAY = half goes back in the center of the table
SHIN = share, or put all you have back into the center of the table

Have fun and remember the real miracle!

 

From “The Source for Everything Jewish” and fjc 12/4/12

Shalom,                                                                                                       Sharaka

 

 

Shavu’ot – what is it, anyway?

Shavu’ot

Shavu’ot – what’s it all about? And what are we supposed to do?

Leviticus/V’Yikra 15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath;

then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves

of two-tenths of an ephah. (4 quarts of flour) They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. 18……19……..

20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD,

They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you.

You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

So from this we learn that 50 days from the crucifixion (from the morrow after the Sabbath – and I chose the Sadducean count – the WEEKLY Sabbath). Each day is an opportunity to meditate on what we can do to improve ourselves and to be more kind and loving to others. There are many sources available to find suggestions on how to accomplish this.
We are to bring two loaves of leavened bread made from 4 qts. of “fine” flour to wave before the Lord. We can only wave toward the East as there is no Temple in Jerusalem. He said we (Believers) are ALL priests now. So we are all responsible to do this. Rabbis made up a series of things to do. But it is not commanded by G-d to follow these instructions. I chose not to…..

We also learn that day (always a Sunday) is to be a holy Sabbath with its customary cessation of regular work and a holy convocation is required. A convocation is a meeting of Believers to worship and honor Yah. This is done by meeting together, worshiping Him with song and dance, sharing a Feast together and rejoicing in His love for us.

It is a lovely tradition to dress well, eat sweet dairy foods, (Israel is a Land of milk and honey) decorate with flowers and greenery, read the Book of Ruth, which took place at the time of the wheat harvest, and stay up all night studying Torah.

In the Book of Ruth, it says “barley” harvest, but actually barley was harvested earlier – about the time of Pesach. There is some confusion concerning grains.

No matter – at least we know it wasn’t corn! There was no corn in Israel at that time.

“Another misnomer is the word corn. In the Bible, corn generally means wheat or barley or some other cereal grain. Corn, as we know it today, did not exist in Bible lands. Corn, was discovered in Cuba by Columbus, and was taken back to Europe on his first or second return trip. When the Europeans came to what is now called the United States, the Native American Indians were growing a crop called maize. It was a primitive form of the corn as we know it today.” http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/cornwine.htm

After the first Pesach, the Israelites left Egypt and went to Mt. Sinai. It was an eleven day journey from Egypt to Canaan. How long to Mt. Sinai? Scripture says it took 45 days. That’s understandable – with 2 million + people and livestock. Moshe was on the mountain 40 days. He came down with the tablets of stone, written by the finger of Yah. The Torah was given there. It was a marriage proposal from Yah to His people. They accepted. It was our betrothal and we were “called out” and became the kehilot – the beginning of “the church”. The church was “born” at Shavu’ot. It is said the “church” was born at “Pentecost” in the New Testament. Not so. But it was the same day.

Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost (Shavu’ot – both mean fifty) had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

3,000 people died at Mt. Sinai after the incident of the Golden Calf.

Exodus 32: 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.

Old Covenant = 3,000 souls lost
New Covenant = 3,000 souls gained Interesting?

Summary:
• Count each day from the “morrow after the Sabbath” for 50 days. It will bring you to Shavu’ot. The connection is – Pesach freed us from the bondage of Egypt (original sin) and Shavu’ot frees us from immorality (daily sins) by showing us what to do and not to do.

• We bring our challot, (first fruits) made with 4 qts. of fine flour to wave before the Lord at a holy convocation (meeting).

• This is a Sabbath and no regular work is to be done.

• Our meeting place is to be decorated with baskets of spring flowers, fruits and greens.

• We worship in song and dance, study Torah and give praise and honor to Yah.

• We dress well, eat sweet dairy foods and stay up all night studying Torah.

• Shavu’ot is the second of the three Pilgrimage Festivals when all males were required to go to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and bring offerings

• These days are called mo’adim or appointed times or rehearsals for what is to come. We are practicing! If you didn’t do all that you should have done for Shavu’ot this year – you can strive to do better next year! May Abba bless our efforts to please Him and do all that we can do
to worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

Shalom!

fjc – 6/9/11

Passover Lamb or Easter Ham?

Passover Lamb or Easter Ham?

The following is from the Bible, G-d’s written Word, several encyclopedias and a few other reference books, along with some thoughts of my own in italics scattered throughout.

The Bible: from the New King James Version (NKJV)

Exodus 12:1-11 (Shemot – Names)
1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month (Aviv/Nisan) shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb (Y’shua/Jesus is the Lamb of G-d), according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 …… 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. (Passover) Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 ………. It is the LORD’s Passover.
Exodus 12:24,26-28
24 And you shall observe this thing (Passover) as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. 25…..26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, ……..’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
Leviticus 23:4&5 (V’yikra – and He called)
4 ‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations (gathering together to worship) which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month (Aviv/Nisan) at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.
Numbers 9:1-3 (B’Midbar – In the Wilderness)
1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 “Let the children of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time. According to all its rites and ceremonies you shall keep it.”
Matthew 26:2
2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Matthew 26:17
17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus,
saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
Mark 14:12
12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”
Luke 22:7&8
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
John 13:1&2
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And supper (the last Supper – His last Passover Seder) being ended, ……..
John 19:14
14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he (Pilot) said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
Acts 18:21
21 but took leave of them, saying, “I (Paul) must by all means keep this coming feast (Passover) in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Epheses.

In the Brit HaDeshah (New Testament) we see that the disciples were STILL keeping the “Feasts of the Lord” according to Leviticus 23. EVEN after the crucifixion of Y’shua/Jesus. It didn’t change then and it hasn’t changed to this day. We are to keep the Feasts. Period. If you have Scripture that shows otherwise, I’d like to see it.

I Corinthians 5:7&8
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven (symbolic of sin), that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of
sincerity and truth.

Institution of the Lord’s Supper – The Last Seder

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed (Aviv 14, Passover Luke 22:7-20) took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME

The Passover meal was/is called a Seder. Y’shua was eating this meal with His disciples. He asked us to do this – for Him. How can we not eat this meal as He commanded?

Suggested reading: Eddie Chumney’s book http://hebroots.com/sevenfestivals_chap3.htm

Here is an excerpt from Eddie’s book, “The Seven Festivals of the Messiah”

Did Yeshua Have a Passover Meal? (Seder)
Mark 14:12, it is written, “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover [the Pesach lamb]….” The word translated as first is the Greek word ‘protos’, which means “before, earlier, and preceding.” Because there was a temple (Beit HaMikdash) in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) in the days of Yeshua, the First Seder would be on the fourteenth of Nisan, and the Second Seder on the fifteenth. The Seder could be held on either night. Yeshua had His Passover (Pesach) Seder by midnight on the fourteenth of Nisan (remember that the fourteenth of Nisan begins at sundown, which is roughly six hours prior to midnight), and was crucified the next afternoon at 3:00 p.m., which is still the fourteenth of Nisan. The high priest (Cohen HaGadol) kills the Passover (Pesach) lamb for the nation of Israel at 3:00 p.m. on the fourteenth of Nisan. At sundown, the fifteenth begins, so Yeshua would have to eat His Passover lamb by midnight of the fourteenth of Nisan, which is prior to the time that the high priest kills the Passover lamb for the nation. To further prove this, in John (Yochanan) 18:28, when Yeshua was brought before Pilate, Caiaphas the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) wouldn’t enter the judgment hall of the Gentile ruler because he would be defiled and couldn’t eat the Passover lamb. So, this event must have taken place on the morning of the fourteenth of Nisan because the high priest had not yet eaten the Passover. If he was defiled, he would be defiled for one day. Since Yeshua had already eaten the Passover by the time He was seized and taken before Caiaphas and Pilate, He had to have eaten the Passover with the disciples on the evening of the fourteenth. Thus, we can see how Yeshua ate a Passover meal and could still fulfill being the Passover Lamb of G-d by being killed at 3:00 p.m. on the fourteenth of Nisan.”
Visit Eddie’s website at www.hebroots.com and

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=30&country=34

Ishtar
From the wikipedia

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_did_the_celebration_of_Easter_originate

“Easter is a pagan holiday that Xtians adopted into their religion. The idea of an Easter egg hunt within this Holiday comes from the goddess of fertility that the pagans had. Easter eggs were originally known as “ishtar eggs” to celebrate His resurrection from the dead. Rabbits have lots of babies, up to 42 a year! and eggs are where babies come from. In pagan cultures it was popular to paint the maidens and hide them in the forest and fields before the young men went and found them. It’s in the spring when a lot of animals are born. To Christians the resurrection of Jesus fell nicely into this pagan celebration of life.

In addition, the ancient pagans of Europe had a spring-fertility goddess known as, Eastre. In one legend, she is tricked into turning into a rabbit, not realizing she cannot turn back. She still retains her powers of fertility (symbolized by the egg) however, and thus you have an egg-laying rabbit. So the symbols of rebirth (the egg) and of Spring (when it seems rabbits overrun the woods) were joined and survived with the coming of Christianity. It was then quite easy for the missionary Christians (Catholics) to bring together an ancient concept of Easter, the important pagan time of rebirth with the idea of a “reborn” or resurrected God in Christ. It may not seem it in these times, but Easter is the most important day of the Christian world. It is the day of resurrection and proof of everlasting life. Thus, for a large population, already accustomed to spring-rebirth celebrations, it was quite easy to transition to the new religion.”

according to a number of various sources:
The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible says that Easter was “originally the spring festival in honor of the Teutonic goddess of light and spring known in Anglo-Saxon as Eastre,” or Eostre. In any case, the Encyclopedia Britannica (11th Edition) states: “There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament.” The book Medieval Holidays and Festivals tells us that, “the holiday is named after the pagan Goddess of the Dawn and of Spring, Eostre.” And who was this goddess? “Eostre it was who, according to the legend, opened the portals of Valhalla to receive Baldur, called the White God, because of his purity and also the Sun God, because his brow supplied light to mankind,” answers The American Book of Days. It adds: “There is no doubt that the Church (Catholic) in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them. As the festival of Eostre was in celebration of the renewal of life in the spring it was easy to make it a celebration of the resurrection from the death of Jesus, whose gospel they preached.”
“This adoption explains how in certain lands the Easter customs, such as Easter eggs, the Easter rabbit, and hot cross buns, came about. Concerning the custom of making hot cross buns, “with their shiny brown tops marked by a cross, the book Easter and Its Customs states: “The cross was a pagan symbol long before it acquired everlasting significance from the events of the first Good Friday, and bread and cakes were sometimes marked with it in pre-Christian times.” The book Curiosities of Popular Customs answers: “It was the invariable policy of the early Church to give a Christian significance to such of the extant pagan ceremonies as could not be rooted out. In the case of Easter the conversion was peculiarly easy. Joy at the rising of the natural sun, and at the awakening of nature from the death of winter, became joy at the rising of the Sun of righteousness, at the resurrection of Christ from the grave. Some of the pagan observances which took place about the 1st of May were also shifted to correspond with the celebration of Easter.” So Easter is actually a Pagan ritual that was absorbed by the church. G-d tells us over and over in His Word NOT to do the things the pagans do!

http://www.goddessgift.com/pandora%27s_box/easter-history.htm

Easter History : Christian and Pagan Traditions Interwoven
The history of Easter reveals rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. Easter, perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death. . . a rebirth that is commemorated around the vernal equinox, historically a time of pagan celebration that coincides with the arrival of spring and symbolizes the arrival of light and the awakening of life around us.

“Easter was originally a celebration of the fertility god, Ashtoreth of Babylon. More commonly known as Ishtar (Easter) is the praise of fertility, eggs, birth, and was incorporated into celebration of Jesus’ resurrection because the Catholic church didn’t want to stop the pagan worship. They folded it into ours (Catholicism) to keep the peace and money flowing. It will be exposed and punished severely in the near future by King Jesus.”

Easter
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11044a.htm from the Catholic encyclopedia:
First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in 325 AD “….. Constantine, having ….. become sole emperor, concerned himself with the re-establishment of religious peace as well as of civil order. Other matters dealt with by this council were the controversy as to the time of celebrating Easter.

And from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05228a.htm
“The emperor himself, (Constantine) writing to the Churches after the Council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things: “At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. . . And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin. . the Christians (Roman Catholics) calculated the time of Easter for themselves, paying no attention to the Jews.”

In other words, the new Emperor, paid no attention to what G-d’s Word told His children to do and decided that the celebration of the resurrection of Y’shua/Jesus was always to be held on a Sunday. They decided it would be the “first Sunday, after the first Full moon, after the 21st of March.” They wanted nothing to do with the hated Jews and their G-d commanded celebration of Passover. It was Passover that G-d commanded us to keep – AND First Fruits – the day of His resurrection. “To keep the traditions of man and/or the doctrines of the church over the written Word of G-d —– is sin.” fjc

“Even then in Ireland and in parts of the North some years passed before the adoption of the Roman Easter became general (Moran, Essays on the Origin, Doctrines and Discipline of the Early Irish Church, Dublin, 1864).” So we see that the Easter date was from the Roman Catholic Church. This fake holiday was accepted by Martin Luther when he broke from the Roman Church and has been with us ever since. Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the 31st of October 1517, to the door of Wittenberg Castle/Church, sparking the Reformation. In this he did well, but he should have insisted on forbidding the so called Sunday Sabbath, Easter and Christ Mass, other inventions of Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 135 AD.

CONCLUSION
Passover is mentioned 77 times in the Bible. Easter only once – in Acts 12:4 in the KJV and it is a miss-translation. It was corrected in all 20 of the newer translations. It should be Passover.
Ishtar/Ashtoreth/Eastre/Easter/Eostre or however you want to say it, depending on your location, is all the same fertility goddess myth and has nothing to do with our blessed Lord’s death or resurrection. Why would you ever even want to connect the two?
G-d told us about Passover, commands us to observe it and He told us not to change His Word in any way. What will you do? Accept G-d’s Passover Lamb or accept the Easter ham? Speaking of ham – do you realize what a slap in the face of G-d it must be to serve ham in the supposed honor of Resurrection Day? Pigs are the garbage cans of earth, created to clean it.

Isaiah 65:3-5 “A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; ……. Who eat swine’s flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels; 5 Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.” Leviticus 11:4,7&8 “…..you shall not eat ….. the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.”

Y’shua/Jesus never ate pork or a ham sandwich in His whole life. He ate according to Leviticus 11. (No pork products) He told us to do what He did. So again I ask – it is Lamb or ham? When you stand before the Lord – what will you tell Him?

See you nert time!
Shalom! Sharaka

Chanukah, What’s it All About, Anyway?

Nobody told us, when we were in the Christian church, about Chanukah.
What is it and what’s it all about, anyway?

There are about 400 years of time between the “Old” and “New” Testaments. Four hundred ’silent’ years when we never heard anything from G-d. This is when the Alexander, the Great, conquered the tiny nation of Israel and marched into Jerusalem. He was friendly to the Jews and respected their beliefs. He conquered the whole known world and it is said he cried when there were no more nations to take over. He died a broken-hearted man at age 33. Having no sons, his top generals divided up his kingdom. Selucis took the northeast (Syria) and Ptolomy took the southwest (Egypt). These two dynasties fought constantly. One would march against the other and rape, rob and pillage little Israel on the way, taking control of its government.. Then when the other got strong enough, they would do the same. And there Israel was, right in the middle of everything. Sounds almost like today’s newspaper!

When the story of Chanukah begins, the northern kingdom of Syria, still Greek run, was “in”. Antiochus IV was the tyrannical leader. He actually gave himself the added name of Epiphanes, which means, “god in the flesh”. Behind his back, he was called Antiochus, Epimanes, (the madman). I think he was the original Borg! He tried to destroy the Nation of Israel – not by death but by assimilation. He wanted to kill their spirits. To do this, he tried to stop their Jewishness. No Torah study; no speaking Hebrew – Greek only; no circumcising or keeping the Sabbath. He had a huge statue of Zeus placed in the Temple and then inscribed his own face onto it. Some scholars say this likeness is what is found on the Shroud of Turin. On Kislev 25, he entered the Temple and had a large sow sacrificed. Broth was prepared from it and poured all over the holy books. He was truly one of the world’s most wicked men.

Greek soldiers were sent all over the land, setting up idols and forcing sacrifices of pigs. One such group entered the small village of Mo’adin, a few miles from Jerusalem and called the people together.
The most respected man in town, an old priest, Matityahu (Matthew in English), was called upon to make the sacrifice. He refused and another Jew stepped forward to do the job. Matityahu killed him with his sword and he and his five sons killed the rest of the soldiers, called the men to follow them into the hills where they could carry out gorilla warfare. Soon a large army gathered and in three years they had driven out the Greeks!

They entered the Temple on Kislev 25 – same date – three years later and began to cleanse it. They threw out all the unclean things, made a new altar and looked for oil with the seal of the high priest on it. Only one small flash could be found with only enough oil to burn in the menorah for one day. The people were rejoicing and waiting to hear the menorah was once again burning. They lit it anyway and it is said the menorah burned for eight days. Long enough for more oil to be prepared. This is the miracle of Chanukah. Some believe it this story was manufactured just to make it sound good. It was not recorded for some two hundred years. G-d certainly COULD have brought this about. Maybe He did – maybe He didn’t. To me, the real miracle is the fact that this small ragtag band of men were able to take over the Temple from mighty Greece! They got their Temple back, their religion back, their language back and their daughters back. This family of priests, the Hasmonean family were godly men above reproach. When Matityahu died, his son Yehudah took over. He was a real Rambo! He was such a good warrior that he was nick-named The Hammer, which is Maccabee in Hebrew. Sad to say, most of the sons were slain in battle and the last one, trusting no one else, made himself king. They were Levites – not from the tribe of Yehudah so this was a definite no-no! It only got worse from then on and by the time the first Herod came in, a hundred or so years later, the people were once again under foreign rule. The Romans this time. This is where the Book of Matityahu – Matthew – begins.

So what does all this mean to us today? A year after the Temple got back into Jewish hands, the sages decreed Kislev 25 to be a grand holy day and a celebration should take place for eight days. Why eight? Some say it was a re-do of Sukkot, because they had not come to Jerusalem to celebrate it properly; some say because circumcision was not allowed to take place on the eighth day, they would celebrate that long because now they were free to put their sons in covenant with G-d again. Who knows? We DO know that this time of Dedication, Y’shua went into the Temple to the Feast. He celebrated the Hasmonean victory. What they won was the right to be a set-apart people. A holy people of G-d who followed His Torah and all His ways. They wanted to remove themselves from the pagan practices around them. It was a bitter fight and many lost their lives. But it was worth it!

It is good to remember what happened back then. But it is good to look into our hearts today and see where we stand. Are WE willing to fight against the surrender of our language? our covenant with G-d? our keeping of the Sabbath? Are we willing to fight against paganism in every way – no matter what the cost? Every generation makes its choice. You can’t do it for your children. You can only teach them all you can and leave them in G-d’s hands.

And what about YOU? If you have never made the decision to follow G-d’s holy ways or asked Y’shua, His Son, to be your Saviour and Redeemer, today is the day! Don’t continue to steep yourself in the ways of the world – but come and join the winning side! I’ve read this whole Book
and G-d is the ultimate Victor! If you are already a Believer – simply rededicate your life to Him.
This can be the best Chanukah of your life! Just do it!

Chanukah 2004 = Eight days beginning Kislev 25
(Sunset December 7th – Sunset December 15th)

(five sons, Yohannan; Shimon; Yehudah, who was called Maccabeus; Eleazar, and Yonatan)

FYI = The word “Chanukah” in Hebrew means Dedication. It starts with the Hebrew letter, “chet”. It is a gutteral sound made in the throat – almost like a gargle. It’s too hard for many English speaking peoples so they have Americanized it by starting the word with an “h” instead, “Hanukkah”. You can’t misspell a Hebrew word in English as they are two different alphabets.
I still say it should be spelled “Chanukah“, and keep the “ch”…………… Let’s do it right!!!!

Sukkot – so soon? Yessssss!

Shalom!
The following is this week’s letter from FFOZ – First Fruits of Zion – an organization headed by my friend, Boaz Michael.
I receive this service every week – love it!
I would like to point out that Messianics (and Jews) outside the Land (Israel) are NOT required to spend nights sleeping in a sukkah. Sukkah is the singular of the Hebrew word “Sukkot”, which is pronounced sue-COAT with the accent on the last syllable, as most Hebrew words are. Please note the requirements for building the sukkah are rabbinical rather than Biblical. There are not many requirements given in Scripture, so we have to rely on the rabbis for instruction. If Y’shua wanted to change things, He would have when He was here. Jews have been keeping these commandments for thirty-seven hundred years (?), so I guess we can in our generation. Common sense still rules. Can you imagine an Alaskan, under 2 feet of snow, sleeping in a sukkah? “Do the best you can with what you have” certainly applies here.
My sukkah is a cube – 8’X8’X8’. I think G-d likes cubes. The Holy of Holies is a cube – 15 ft square. Mine has three sheets of 4’X8’ painted plywood lying on their sides, nailed to 2’X4’s. Two door hinges on the back 2X4s hold it together. When the holydays are over, just pull out the pins and you have three sides to stack and store. The top sides are left open and the back wall has bamboo shades. We can decorate on that, hang fruit and other décor from the lattice covering the top. I use Jewish calendar pictures and whatever else suits me, to decorate. I have a small table and two benches to complete the furnishings. A menorah and an etrog sit on the table. It’s so refreshing to just sit and sip a hot cup of coffee and contemplate the goodness of the Lord and the blessings He has given me. I believe the first day of Sukkot is the birthday of the Messiah and the eighth and last day, the day He was circumcised. I have been singing, “Joy to the World” and “Little Town of Bethlehem” for several days now! Drives my non-Messianic kids crazy! Here’s the story:

Parashat Hashavuah (Portion of the Week)

Sukkot : “The Feast of Booths”
Torah : Leviticus 22:26-23:44
Haftarah : Zechariah 14
Gospel : Luke 2

Sukkot: Camping Out with God

Thought for the Week
The Feast of Tabernacles is the culmination of all the appointed times. It is to the other festivals what the Sabbath is to the other six days of the week. It is a prophetic picture of the coming kingdom. It foreshadows the great celebration when the entire world will live in peace and brotherhood under the reign and rule of the righteous Messiah King. sukkot: Camping Out with God

Commentary
Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus 16:34)

Five days after the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is seven days long. The first day is a special Sabbath. The Hebrew name of the festival is sukkot (סוכות, pronounced “sue coat”), a word that means “shelters, stables or huts.” The same word is often translated into English as “tabernacles” or “booths.” The name is derived from the commandment for all Jews to dwell in temporary shelters for the seven days of the festival as a reminder of the post-exodus years when Israel lived in huts and booths, following God in the wilderness:

You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths. (Leviticus 23:42)

The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (סוכה), which is the singular form of the plural word sukkot. A traditional sukkah must have at least two and a half walls made from virtually any material. The walls don’t have to be solid. They could be plywood, canvas, latticework or just about anything. One wall can be part of a permanent structure. For example, the wall of a garage would work. The rest of the booth has to be temporary and disassembled after the festival.

The sukkah booth can be any size, so long as it is large enough for the family to eat and sleep in. The roof of the sukkah is supposed to be covered with some sort of foliage or vegetation that grows from the ground: tree branches, cornstalks, bamboo reeds, sticks or even lumber. The roof material has to provide adequate shade yet be sparse enough so rain can get in and stars can be seen through it. The sukkah should leave a person vulnerable to the elements.

The process of building and living in a sukkah is a great adventure for children. It’s like building a fort and camping out in the backyard. People commonly decorate their sukkot. It’s fun for the kids, often more fun than decorating a Christmas tree. Families hang harvest decorations and handmade artwork from the walls.

During the course of the seven days of sukkot, it is appropriate to eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and if the climate permits, to sleep at night inside the sukkah. Hosting guests in the sukkah for special holiday meals is a big part of the festival. It’s a great time of fellowship.

The sukkot is a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God’s goodness. The festival of sukkot comes at harvest time. The joyous mood of sukkot is a dramatic shift from the solemn and austere tone of the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The celebration of sukkot is so joyous that Jewish liturgy often refers to it as “the season of our rejoicing.” The commandment to move outside of one’s comfortable zone and live in a booth is meant to remind us that God is our provider, sustainer and protector. On the cycle of sanctification, sukkot is an annual opportunity to revel in God’s goodness and take delight in our redemption.

Go online: www.ffoz.org/contact

First Fruits of Zion, PO Box 649, Marshfield, MO 65706-0649 USA

Telephone 417 468 2741, Toll-free 800 775 4807, Fax 417 468 2745

The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (סוכה), which is the singular form of the plural word sukkot. A traditional sukkah must have at least two and a half walls made from virtually any material. The walls don’t have to be solid. They could be plywood, canvas, latticework or just about anything. One wall can be part of a permanent structure. For example, the wall of a garage would work. The rest of the booth has to be temporary and disassembled after the festival.

The sukkah booth can be any size, so long as it is large enough for the family to eat and sleep in. The roof of the sukkah is supposed to be covered with some sort of foliage or vegetation that grows from the ground: tree branches, cornstalks, bamboo reeds, sticks or even lumber. The roof material has to provide adequate shade yet be sparse enough so rain can get in and stars can be seen through it. The sukkah should leave a person vulnerable to the elements.

The process of building and living in a sukkah is a great adventure for children. It’s like building a fort and camping out in the backyard. People commonly decorate their sukkot. It’s fun for the kids, often more fun than decorating a Christmas tree. Families hang harvest decorations and handmade artwork from the walls.

During the course of the seven days of sukkot, it is appropriate to eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and if the climate permits, to sleep at night inside the sukkah. Hosting guests in the sukkah for special holiday meals is a big part of the festival. It’s a great time of fellowship.

The sukkot is a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God’s goodness. The festival of sukkot comes at harvest time. The joyous mood of sukkot is a dramatic shift from the solemn and austere tone of the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The celebration of sukkot is so joyous that Jewish liturgy often refers to it as “the season of our rejoicing.” The commandment to move outside of one’s comfortable zone and live in a booth is meant to remind us that God is our provider, sustainer and protector. On the cycle of sanctification, sukkot is an annual opportunity to revel in God’s goodness and take delight in our redemption.

Shalom! Chag sameach! See ya next time!

Passover – First one without him!

In honor of Kenneth L. Carlson
11/19/28  -  9/8/08

Chag Sameach – Happy Passover!

Happy Resurrection Day

You’ll be home soon, too.
You may not have noticed it
but you are closer to home than ever before.
Each moment is a step taken. Each breath is a page turned.
Each day is a mile marked, a mountain climbed.
You are closer to home than you have ever been.

Before you know it your appointed arrival will come;
You’ll descend the ramp and enter the City.
You’ll see faces that are waiting for you.
You’ll hear your name spoken by those who love you.
And maybe, just maybe – in the back, behind the crowds -
The One who would rather die than live without you
will remove His pierced hands from His heavenly robe
… and applaud.

Max Lucado, “The Applause of Heaven”

Will you be ready?

See you next time,

Shalom, Sharaka

Chanukah – The Festival of Lights!

In the “Silent Years”, the 400 years between the old and new covenants, many events occurred which are not recorded in the Holy Book.  Alexander, the Great, came on the scene as the mighty Greek/Syrian conqueror of all the known world. He took everything he wanted and it’s recorded that he cried when he learned there were no lands left to conquer. He died of a broken heart before the age of 33. His empire was divided among four generals, Seleucus and Ptolemy becoming the strongest. The latter went south to headquarter in Egypt and Seleucus took the Syrian or eastern half. These two factions battled continually for supremacy and with tiny unprotected Israel in between, you can imagine the effect the wars had on the country.

About 170 BC, that many years before Y’shua was born, Antiochus IV, a Greek king, attacked Israel killing thousands. He banned all religious activity, especially keeping the Sabbath, the study of Torah and circumcision, the sign of God’s Covenant People. He defiled the Temple on Kislev 25, 168 or 167 BC, (on the Jewish calendar) by bringing in a large sow, slaughtering it upon the altar and pouring broth from it on the Holy Word of God. Antiochus was so vile that he added the name “Epiphanes” to his own – to mean `the visible god’. Anyone found with a new born circumcised baby boy was killed along with the whole family. Many other too-horrible-to-tell events occurred.

The Jews tried to do the best they could to continue to placate the Greeks and yet serve the One God. They invented a little game to play as they taught their children the Hebrew alef-bet. When soldiers came along they said they were just playing a game. It is still played today with a spinning four sided top called a Dreidel – which means “to spin”.

In the little village of Modi’in, just about three miles from Yerushalayim, an old priest named Matityahu lived with his five sons.  He truly loved God with all his heart and did his best to please Him. One day a band of soldiers came and ordered a pig to be sacrificed to Zeus, saying they would kill all who would not obey.  Matityahu refused and killed the first Jew that tried to offer the pig. Then he and his sons killed all the soldiers. It was time to stand for God and country. Many followed the old priest and his sons into the hills where they waged warfare on the Greek rulers. They were so relentless against their enemies that they were nicknamed “the Hammers”, or in the Hebrew “the Maccabees”.  When the old priest died, his son, Yehuda, took over as leader.  After a three year war they actually succeeded in driving out their enemies and taking back the land. This great day was Kislev 25 – again, 165 or 164 BC!  Kislev was a Babylonian name. The Hebrews did not name their months – or the days of the week. Kislev was/is the ninth month.

The Temple was defiled – some of it beyond repair. The old altar was torn down and replaced with new stones. New  vessels were made and all the area was cleansed.  Years before when the Tabernacle was built, God had ordered that the menorah, a seven branched candlestick be fashioned of gold and kept continually burning.  Pure sanctified olive oil was used as the fuel.  At last they were ready to rededicate the Temple for worship to God. All they needed was ritually pure oil!  Legend says only one bottle was to be found with the seal of the high priest still on it.  The people were assembled in victory waiting for the eternal light to blaze forth. It was decided to divide the oil into all the bowls and light them anyway – knowing they could only burn for one night. It would take eight long days to press more olive oil and prepare it for burning. The people did what they could and God took it from there – as He always does! It is said a great miracle occurred! The oil continued to burn for the full eight days. The Sages of that generation decreed that these eight days after the 25th of Kislev should be days of great rejoicing.  God Himself did not order this celebration, but it was done in His honor.   Special menorahs having nine lamps were made and made and everyone was to light their own chanukah menorah (called chanukiah) at sunset on Kislev 25 and for the next seven evenings.  In some families only one is used for everyone. They are placed in the front window for all the world to see.  We should always let every one see and hear of God’s miracles.

The first night the one on the far right is lighted by the shamash or servant candle and both are allowed to burn down (about a half hour). Each night one more candle is lighted until on the eighth night all nine are ablaze.  Special chanukah candles can be purchased in  rainbow colors for the occasion. Blessing are said first each night, thanking God for His mighty miracles.  This is a time to thank the Holy One of Israel  for  ALL  the miracles that He has done for us through the years and in our lives today. Yet to come is another Chanukah when the Temple will again be cleansed from the last Antiochus – the antiChrist – for he will rule for a time there before King Y’shua.

“Chanukah” means dedication.  It is a time to rededicate our lives to Him. This day is also believed to be the day Y’shua was conceived. He is The Light! It is a time to remember that we are to be His light today in a very wicked world.

(By the way, the “Ch” in Hebrew is pronounced
“KHah” with a little clearing of the throat sound…
it is sometimes spelled `Hanukkah’.)

Yochanon, (John) the beloved disciple, tells us in John 10:22 about Y’shua coming to the Temple in winter  (Kislev 25) to celebrate the Feast of Chanukah.  If it was good enough for Y’shua – it’s good enough for me!  If you drive past our house just after dark (and we’re home) any night during Chanukah, you’ll see our chanukiah lights burning in our window. Better yet, come on in and we’ll play dreidel!  We’ll have some potato latkes (fried in oil – to remember the miracle oil…)  some sufganiyot  (Israeli donuts) and praise God together for His great love.

Shalom  Shalom!
December 26, 2005  -   Kislev 25, 5766

Happy New Year!

Today is the 4th of Nissan on G-d’s calendar. The calendar we all use is called the Gregorian calendar and was put together under Pope Gregory XIII. The Wikipedia Encyclopedia on Google says, “The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today………. decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was named, on 24 February 1582. So it can be properly called a Catholic calendar. They say the new year begins in January. G-d says it begins in the spring on the 1st of Nissan. (Sometimes March – sometimes April)
Kevin Geoffrey, a Messianic Believer, says below “we lonely few” … Isn’t that so true? The Jews on one hand don’t accept Y’shua as the Messiah, the Christians, who do accept Him, totally reject Torah (the so called “Old Testament”) as relevant in our day. We Messianics, who believe both, are not accepted by either! That surely does make us “the lonely few”.
According to the Bible, the new month started last Sunday. Each month on G-d’s calendar begins on the new moon. I am including Kevin’s short e-mail message to me. Hope you enjoy it. FYI = Adonai means Lord and is used for God’s name.
Shalom and Blessings!

And Happy New Year, too!

Yes, the new year of Israel’s calendar has begun, and as usual, our people have no idea. Sadly, as far as the Jewish people are concerned, the new year doesn’t begin for another six months, on the first day of the seventh month, known as “Rosh HaShanah.” And so, in the quiet company of the Scriptures, we lonely few celebrate the new year Adonai actually instructed Israel to observe.

In Exodus 12:1-2 and 23:15b, the Torah teaches us, “Now Adonai said to Moshe… ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you…. the month of Aviv, for in it you came out of Egypt.’” So where did Israel get the idea to celebrate the new year at some other time? By whose authority was Israel’s calendar “changed”?

As we prepare our hearts to begin again the calendar Adonai gave to Israel, my thoughts turn to my people, and I ask, “How can they ever be reached?” If their eyes are blind to the simple teachings of Scripture, how can they ever be opened to the truth of Messiah?

In this new year season and the forthcoming season of Passover, let us renew our dedication to Adonai—to live completely and utterly “sold-out” to Him. Only when we sell ourselves out to God and follow wholeheartedly in the ways of the Master will we be able to reach our Jewish people… indeed, the ends of the earth! As long as we are wishy-washy on the Scriptures and convictionless with how we mix ourselves up with the world, we fail in our calling as disciples of Messiah. Now is the time to stand in the authority given to us by the Master, and fully embrace our identity in Messiah every moment of our lives.

Let us begin by forsaking our own lives, dying to self and giving ourselves to Him, then making this resolution new once again: “With Messiah I have been crucified, and no more do I live, but Messiah lives in me…” (Gal.2:20)

In the Master’s service,

Kevin Geoffrey
President and Founder
Perfect Word Ministries

See you next time,

Shalom, Sharaka

Do the Math!

The Bible says, “Come let us reason together.”  So let’s do that.

We know Y’shua (Jesus) wasn’t in the tomb on Sunday morning. But when did He die?

The church believes Y’shua (Jesus) was crucified on a Friday. They get this from John 19:31 where it is mentioned they wanted to remove Y’shua’s body before the Sabbath. The church assumes the Bible means the weekly Sabbath (Shabbat/Saturday).  The Bible states:  “31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day),……….”   I believe what the Bible says, not what somebody made up.

Y’shua was crucified on Passover, which had to have been on a Wednesday that year. The Roman Church under Constantine, degreed the first Sunday after the first full moon after the 21st of March, which is the Spring equinox is “Easter”.  This is the English name of “Ishtar”, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. That’s why there are eggs and bunnies – symbols of fertility. The Roman holiday of Ishtar has what to do with Y’shua’s death and resurrection?  The Bible plainly tells us exactly when Passover is and three days later came the Resurrection?  Mark 14:16-17 tells us: “16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. 17 In the evening He came with the twelve.”   After the Seder (the Passover meal) was eaten, Y’shua went to the Garden with His disciples and there was betrayed by Judas. He was taken, beaten, sent to a mock trial, condemned to die, put on the cross, died, was buried – all in the same 24 hours.

He had to be taken down from the cross before sunset that night because the day after Passover is a high Sabbath. It is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Every holy day, each day that G-d calls a Sabbath, is a high Sabbath – and not the weekly or seventh day Sabbath. See Leviticus 23 for all the Holy Days. G-d’s days – Biblical days – begin, not at midnight, but at sunset. Genesis 1:5 says: “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Y’shua was hurriedly placed in the tomb just minutes before sunset. If He died at 3 PM, and they had to go “beg the body” from Pilot, get it to the tomb, wrap it in strips of linen with 75-100 pounds of myrrh and aloes first (see John 19:39-40) it would have been a race with the sun to get Him into the tomb by sunset. Mark 15:33-37 states: “33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. …… 37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.”  The ninth hour is 3 PM. Wednesday ended at sunset. Thursday began at sunset. Y’shua said He would be in the grave three nights and three days. Thursday would be the first night and day that He spent in the tomb. Friday would be the second night and day. Saturday would be the third night and day. Just minutes before sunset on Saturday (Shabbat) would be the full three nights and three days!  That’s when He said He would rise from the grave. And he did!   Do the math…     If He didn’t do what He said – He would be a liar. I don’t think so. Do the math…

How can you get three nights and three days from Friday to Sunday?  It ain’t ever gonna happen!
Just do the math.

See you next time,                                                                                                                                                                             Shalom, Sharaka

Chanukah – Re-visited

“Shalom, favored one!” Gavri’el came to Miriam and proclaimed. “Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with God. Look! You will become with Child; you will give birth to a Son and you are to name Him Y’shua. He will be great, He will be called the Son of HaElyon, Adonai – God …”
Luke 1:30-32 in David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible

So Mary learned from G-d’s messenger, Gabriel, that she was chosen to be the human mother of Y’shua, the Light of the World. Did this historic happening occur on the Feast of Dedication/Feast of Lights as it is called in John 10:22?

We believe it did!

And so He was conceived on Kislev 25 (on the Jewish calendar) which occurs in the month of December.
We (Messianics) celebrate the incarnation of the Holy One at this time of year. His conception – not His birth. According to Scripture, He was then born nine months later on the first day of Sukkot, commonly called the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs on Tishrei 15 on the Jewish calendar.

These are G-d’s dates given in Leviticus 23. G-d’s Holy Word is a Jewish book, written by Jews, with one exception, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was first written to Jews and later extended to include Gentiles. Y’shua was – and still is – a Jewish rabbi and He will return as a Jewish rabbi. If you celebrate His conception or don’t, it’s not nearly as important as believing Gabriel’s report and myriads of saints and martyrs who have given their lives to say, “I believe!”

The most important thing you can do in your whole life is to believe that Y’shua HaMashiach, or Jesus, the Christ, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and that He became G-d in the flesh to live in this sinful world and to die for our sin so that we might forever live with Him. Give Him first place in your life and let Him live – dwell – tabernacle – forever with you.

G-d bless you and give you His shalom!

See you next time!                                                                                                                                                                               Shalom, SHARAKA

originally written 12/2002

Shavuot ~ Pentecost

“Today is 49 days, which are seven weeks, of the Omer.”

the following is from Carl Smith, Messianic Pastor
Tomorrow is the 50th day….Shavuot (Weeks, Pentecost) This remembers and celebrates the day the Torah was given at Mt Sinai (Horeb); the day Israel became a congregation; the day of the marriage to YHVH. This remembers and celebrates the special empowering of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) upon the Believers in Yeshua in Jerusalem 10 days after He ascended into heaven. This remembers and celebrates that YHVH has made Yeshua both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36), and that He has paid for our sins if we follow Him. “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh!” (Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern)

This remembers and celebrates the Appointed Time (Mo’ed – H4150) established by YHVH around 3,500 years ago (Lev 23:15-21; Deu 16:9-12); one that millions upon millions of His people have enjoyed over the centuries.

HalleluJah! COME, LET US CELEBRATE!

[Note: If you are a Believer in Yeshua then you are automatically a child of Abraham, grafted into the tree of Israel. Importantly, these are YHVH's "Feasts" (Appointed Times, Mo'adim--cf Leviticus 23). These are His Appointed Times, His "Feasts," not "Jewish Feasts." These are for all of His people. (cf Rom 4:9-16; 11:17-24; Gal 3:6-7; James 2:21) That includes all of us. :-)

It is sobering to consider that if we do not remember and celebrate these mo'adim we are dishonoring, even denying that we trust in, YHVH, our Heavenly Father and Yeshua His Son! (1 John 2:3-6) ]”

See you next time!

Shalom, Sharaka

Passover – Bedikat Chametz

Removing the Leaven

We are required to remove all leaven (which represents sin) from our homes before Passover begins. There is an old tradition called “Bedikat Chametz” which is done the evening before Passover. The house has been thoroughly cleaned (beginning the day after Purim) and there is no yeast, baking powder, flour or products made with flour in the house. A Jewish friend of mine went so far as to feed her dog outside during this time, not even wanting dog food in the house!

Each Congregation and even each family has their own version of how to accomplish the tradition of Bedikat Chametz. The following is mine which was taught to me by my dear friend, the late Ruth Specter Lascelle, whose grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem. Ruth loved her Messiah and taught many, many others through her books, her brother’s radio program, Seattle Bible Training School and in speaking engagements throughout the country. I loved listening to her stories. You can find her books through her late brother, Hyman Specter’s “The Rock of Israel” rockofisrael.org website. I have added some of my own thoughts as well as from Eddie Chumney and others.

Now for the ceremony:

Father, in the darkened house, lights a candle and with the children in tow, goes about the house searching for chametz.

Mom has placed 10 crumbs of bread in plain sight somewhere in the house for them to find. When they are found, they are swept onto a wooden spoon with a feather, then dumped into a linen cloth. The cloth is put into a paper bag and left outside the house until morning when it is burned. Father prays that to his knowledge, all chametz has been removed from their house. Any unseen or unknown chametz is declared null and void. Now they are ready for Passover!

Symbolism:

Father is the head of the house and the priest of the family. Ephesians 5:23 – ‘For the husband is the head of the wife …”

Mother (woman was made to be a help to her husband. They are to submit to each other in love.) Genesis 2:18 -“ ….it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper…..”)

Searching for chametz (anything made with leavening). Zephaniah 1:12 “…I will search Jerusalem with lamps (candles)….” The Lord was looking for sin.

Chametz = any grain that can ferment, or flour made from any grain, (typically bread crumbs) is leaven (yeast, Baking Powder, etc. ) symbolizes sin in our lives. Exodus 12:19 – ‘For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses……’

Candle (light) = G-d’s Holy Word which shows us our sin. Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Feather = the Ruach HaKodesh or Holy Spirit, which shows us truth – teaches us.                                                         I Cor. 2:12 – “…. we have received … the Spirit, who is come from G-d that we might know the things that are freely  given to us by G-d.”


Linen cloth = what Y’shua was wrapped in John 19:40 – “Then took they the body of Y’shua and wound it in strips of linen ….

Wooden spoon = the tree (or cross) where Y’shua was crucified Deut 21:22

Paper bag = the tomb John 19:41,42 – “…. A new tomb ….so there they laid Y’shua…”

Burning = Y’shua descending to Hades, a place of burning Acts 2:27 – “Because You will not leave My soul in Hades.”

I have found this little ceremony to be very helpful in knowing I have done my best to remove leaven from my house, according to G-d’s commandment and more importantly, that I have prayerfully asked the Lord to show me any sin in my life so that I can repent and rebuke that which is not pleasing to Him.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

House cleaning for Passover?

Where to Start?

House in trouble? Don’t know where to start? Take a tip from everybody’s friend, the FlyLady! Flylady.com (and she’s a Believer!) If you are like most of us housewives …. Guys, you can benefit from this, too! … you want everything to look nice but the housework just seems to get away from you. So much to do – so little time!!!

I’ve created a new habit for myself – just for starters. If you do this consistently, you will be on your way to a cleaner house.

Don’t you hate to be at a nice restaurant, go into the Ladies’ Room or Men’s Room, as the case may be, and find a sink all spotted with water and soap scum here and there? Well, you really don’t want to face the same condition at home, do you?

Here’s whatcha do – every time you use a sink in your house, finish up with a paper towel or whatever you use, and wipe up your sink. Get rid of water spots, soap scum and polish the Faucet! Make your sink look like new. Soon, with a little encouragement, your family will begin to do the same. When you have a beautiful shiny sink, the counters will look so much better if you remove all the unnecessary clutter and wipe them down, too. Before you know it your whole kitchen and bathroom will be a thing of beauty! At the very least, your sinks will sparkle and you will feel a whole lot better about yourself! Just try it for a week and see. Would ya? Passover’s coming!!!!

See you next time!

Shalom, Sharaka

My favorite Purim recipe

Hamentashen

1 3/4 cups (250 g) flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 drops vanilla flavoring
1 egg yolk
2 – 3 teaspoons of milk if needed

1 egg, beaten, for glazing
(Let dough cool while you make filling)
For Mohn filling (poppy seed)

1 cup (150 g) poppy seeds
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons raisins
Grated zest of 1 lemon (peeling)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Simmer (cook) the seeds and milk 15 minutes or until thick. Add raisins, honey, sugar and butter. Cook 5 more minutes. Add lemon zest and juice.
Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar.
Add butter in small pieces (I grate hard butter) and mix together until it looks like cornmeal. It is much like making pie crust.
Add Egg yolk and vanilla and lightly stir into a ball. Don’t mix it too much.
Add milk if needed to make it stick together.
Don’t handle too much or the dough will be tough.

Cover with plastic and cool in refrigerator.

Make filling. Can use apricot jam or prune filling.

Roll dough fairly thin. Cut with 3 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Put small amount of filling in the center of each cookie and fold up 3 edges, leaving the filling showing in the center. Make sure edges stick together.

Brush beaten egg on tops and sides of each cookie.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

This recipe comes from “The Book of Jewish Food”, by Claudia Rodin

Copyright 1996, published by Universities International Press, Inc

See you next time! – Purim sameach!
Shalom, Sharaka

About Purim …

When the Jews were in captivity in Persia, about 500 BC, (says Ussher) the story of the Book of Esther takes place. Esther is a Persian or Babylonian name – Hadasseh was her Jewish real name! She was beautiful in spirit as well as body – truly a Proverbs 31 woman. The celebration of deliverance told here has become known as the Biblical holiday of Purim. Pur means die/lot as in lottery. Purim or dice is the plural. It was decided by the wicked Hamen to kill all the Jews. Lots were cast to see when that should happen. The Book of Esther, all ten chapters, are read by the Jewish people on the anniversary of the first celebration, Adar 14, which comes in early spring. It’s a very important day for Christians, also, because if the wicked Haman had carried out his threat to annihilate all Jews, the Messiah would have never been born. The kingdom of Ahashvarosh covered over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, which was the known world at that time. No Jew is all the world was to be spared! Haman, the Agagite, was decended from the Edomite (Esau) people who have always been enemies of the Jews. King Saul was ordered to wipe them out and he failed. King Herod, in the time of Christ, was from this line. Mordecai and Hadasseh, who were from the Benjamites – same tribe as Saul, finally did it generations later. The history of the Bible is also unfulfilled prophesy. Haman is a picture of the False Messiah and he and his ten sons were destroyed just as Christians believe the anti-Christ or False Messiah and his ten heads (governments) will be destroyed someday.

Moral: Don’t mess with God’s people!

Why not get the family together and take turns reading the Book of Esther? Have a party! Dress up like the characters! Make it fun – whistle and cheer when you read Esther’s name.

Boo and hiss, make lots of noise and stamp your feet when you read the name of Haman.

Cheer for the name of Mordechai. You learn a lot more when you read the whole book at once. It’s the only Book that does not mention the name of God and was almost not included in the Bible for this reason.

A pastry treat called “Hamantashen” – a filled cookie – is served and it’s a fun time for everyone. At our house we have a life-sized cardboard box made to sorta look like “Wicked Haman” with an open mouth. We play a game throwing bagels in his mouth to see who can get the most points. Purim is about friends, kinship and community, strong bonds that last a lifetime, about remembering, and about our salvation. It’s a great time for remembering the provision God has made for us through His grace and faithfulness; a time Jews and Christians alike can celebrate the goodness of our God.

Baruch hashem Adonai – Blessed be the name of the Lord! Chag Sameach! – Have a happy Purim! – March 14, 2006

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Purim II

Hadasseh, the Beautiful

Esther, named after Ashterah, a goddess of that country, was the Persian or Babylonian name of the Jewish captive. Hadasseh was her Hebrew name. She was a beautiful young girl with a character, I imagine, to be somewhat like that of Miryam, the mother of Y’shua. God had chosen them both for a very special purpose in life and they both met the challenge. We would do well to imitate these attributes. Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin, Mordecai. She was his uncle’s daughter but the Bible calls him her uncle (?). He must have cared for her very much as no mention is made of any other family members and he seemed devoted to her.
This book was written about events which take place over a 10 year period. 483 – 473 BC. It is the only record we have of Jewish life in Babylon/Persia/now Iran. The events occur between the 6th and 7th chapters of Ezra – which is between the two ‘returns’ to Israel. The first being led by Zerubbabel and the second by Ezra. Some scholars believe Ezra wrote the book, others opt for Mordecai himself, but most now believe it was by one of his younger contemporaries.
Ahasuerus is a Hebrew name; Xerxes – the Greek name of Khshayarsh, the Persian king. He has also been referred to as Ahashverosh – whoever he was, he was certainly a man of emotional extremes, whose actions were often strange and contradictory. These Jewish people he ruled over were not even supposed to be in Persia. They should have gone home to Israel with Zerubbabel. It was a case of comfort and ease. They made good livings in this civilized place – why go back to rocks and ruin? The meat of the story is in Chapters 9 and 10 and we will read that next. Here is a little of the history and customs of the Jews concerning Purim. Two things we can learn today for sure! The name of the wicked Amalakite is pronounced “HAH-man” and we eat the filled cookie “Hamantashchen” which means Haman’s hats. It is not Hay-man. The other is the name of the festival itself. “Poo-REEM”, which rhymes with “who cream” and not Pure-rim or even poo-rim. Having become so educated – let’s see how this thing is celebrated.

Purim, an extra-Mosaic Festival
This festival was not ordered by God but by Mordecai and there are Four Main ways to celebrate:

(1) The reading of the Megillah, (the whole Book of Esther) the Hallel (song of praise) of the day. Singing and dancing and praising the Lord are the order of the day. Once again God has given Y’shua (salvation) to the Jews. Once again God acted at just the right time!
(2) Festivity and Rejoicing: partaking of scrumptious foods and extending “Yom Tov” (good day greetings to one another. We have reason to celebrate, so let’s do it with gusto!
(3) Giving of gifts to one another. This is called “Mishloach Manot”. It must consist of sweets or other ready-to-eat-edibles and a drink and it is given to display your love and good-will. Gifts of clothing or money are NOT acceptable. Little baskets or attractive packages – even paper plates, can be fixed up to give.
(4) Sending of Gifts to the Poor. It is a custom to send two portions for the poor. In ancient days, a portion meant three halves of the basis of the currency. In our day, that would mean $1.50. Our basic currency is $1.00 so this is three halves. Two portions would be $3.00. That amount could be given for the poor. Together, that could add up! But the main thing is – we are to give to the poor. This contribution is made in remembrance of the 1/2 shekel given by the Israelites when the Temple still stood. The half-shekel is now being made in Israel again as we get closer to a new Temple.

This festival is a time of National pride – pride in Israel and pride in our true home – the Kingdom of God! We are only visitors here – this is not our home! Praise God! We can resist conforming to thi

A word about disguises:

It is customary to wear disguises on Purim. Esther was disguised. Her true identity was not revealed until it was necessary. Please consider at least a mask and/or a hat!

Yom Tov! See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Birth of Y’shua (Jesus) …

When was Y’shua REALLY born?

Most scholars have now concluded that Y’shua (Jesus) was NOT born on December 25th. Even so the “church” continues to celebrate it then – no matter what. So when WAS He born? It is a little known fact but one that can easily be found right in the Bible.

1. We can start with Zachariah the priest. It was his lot that was picked to burn incense in the Holy of Holies when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, informing him of the coming birth of his son and that he was to name him John. (Luke 1:8-13) We know what time of year he was there. We learn from the Book that his son, Yochanan the Immercer (John the Baptist,) was six months older than Y’shua. (Luke 1:26– 33) So when was John (Yochanan) born? Zachariah was a priest, a Levite of the course of Abijah – the eighth course. (Luke !:5) I Chronicles chapter 24, tells us about the courses or groups into which King David had divided the priests. Each course served in the Temple for one week in the beginning of the year, (Ex 12 says the beginning of the year is at Pesach in the Spring) one week in the last half of the year, and all priests served for one week during each of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, which are: Pesach, (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) as shown in Lev. 23 . He would have served the 10th week. (He would have served the eighth week, but we need to add the two weeks for Pesach and Shavuot, making it the 10th week) It can be determined that he served in June/July. Counting for the two weeks of separation, (Lev) John would have been born at Pesach (Passover) in March or April. Y’shua, being six months younger, would have been conceived on Chanukah (November or December), and counting the nine months of pregnancy, been born in September or October. Remember, the Jewish calendar counts the months by the moon, each new month beginning on the new moon, whereas the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar month is calculated by the sun. It can be determined that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot in the Fall. Sukkot is called “the season of our joy” and all are commanded to be joyful! Why not!? The Saviour of all mankind was born and the world needs to rejoice at that! Since Sukkot is an eight day celebration – it would be natural to assume that He was circumcised on the eighth day. A must for all Jewish males who kept G-d’s law.

2. The only time the sheep were kept out in the fields in Beit Lechem, would have been at Sukkot. They were kept there in readiness for the sacrifice of Simhat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot. Angels were said to proclaim, “Glory to God in the heavens and on the earth peace and good will toward the earth.” Sound familiar? This is recorded in the Talmud. (Hallel Five) Incidentally, all sheep raised for sacrifice at the Temple had to be raised within five miles of the Temple. Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) was in Beit LeChem. The shepherds there were not unlearned men, they were Levitical priests who would have known about the Messiah being born there. They would have heard this proclamation every year! But this time it was said by a host of angels. No wonder they readily accepted the angelic message. He only comes where He is expected ….

3. Then there is King Herod. We know that “wise men” from the “east” came to him in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of the new King. The “wise men” were Jewish scholars who came from Babylon. Babylon is always referred to as “the east”. Remember when Daniel and many others were exiled to Babylon when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians? When the Jews were allowed to return to Israel, most chose to stay in Babylon, where they had jobs, families, houses and lands and had grown very comfortable. Why would they give it all up to go back to desolate Israel and start over? The “wise men” were their descendents. Who but a Jew would know the Jewish Scriptures and know enough to look for the Jewish Messiah coming out of Bethlehem? Another thing – we don’t know how many there were and certainly not their names. Some guess three because there were three gifts, but my guess is there were many more. Why travel all that long way unless you were in a larger, safer group? At any rate, they came and inquired of King Herod and you know the rest of the story. In those days a child was counted to be one year old at birth and so Herod really commanded all baby boys in Bethlehem one year and under be killed. History tells us that Herod died after a transgression against the Jews. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records the death of Herod around September, of 4 BCE (B.C.) So we are still in the right time frame. Put all that together and you have to know that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot!

Whenever He was born, it wasn’t in December. We can chose not to believe a lie and celebrate His birth at Sukkot. We can keep the day focused on Him and not all this crass commercialism that we see in December. However, let’s be patient and kind to those still blinded to the truth and let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) do His work. One day when Messiah comes, He will bring us all truth! And I think ALL of us will be surprised!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

How to use this site:

Welcome to “Sharaka Shares”. Notice the list of entries on the right.
“Archives” and “Categories”. Click on the one you wish to see.

I suggest you choose the category “Chanukah” and you will see a short except from each of the 11 articles. To read the whole article, click on the title and it will come up.

I hope you will enjoy this website and use it for your prayerful consideration. Don’t take everything I say as absolute truth. Check it out with your Bible and ask G-d to speak to your heart about it. Only He has absolute truth on anything. We humans just keep searching for it and doing the best we can with what we’ve got!

Happy Chanukah !
Shalom, Sharaka

Migdal Eder

The Watchtower of the Flock

Many of you celebrate the birth of Christ at “Christmas”. Literally “Christ Mass“. Most scholars today agree that He was NOT born in the winter, but in mid-Autumn. Most Messianics believe that He was born on the first day of Sukkot. (Sept – Oct) Our family celebrates His birth at that time. We believe He was born in a sukkah (temporary dwelling, hut or stable). We can celebrate His birth without all the trappings of Saturnalia (the ancient Roman celebration of their god by bringing in evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe and other greenery, feasting, drinking, the giving of gifts and time off work to party – all happening on December 25th). At Sukkot we can focus on Y’shua and the real meaning of His birth without all these distractions and the taint of pagan Saturnalia. But that’s another article!

Scripture tells us that Y’shua was born in Bethlehem (Beit l’chem – or house of bread). He lived there only a short time. His family soon went to Egypt and then returned to their hometown of Nazareth, where He was raised. When He started His ministry, He left home, and moved to Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).

So what was Bethlehem all about?

Scripture tells us that the Messiah, G-d’s anointed One, would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the town of His ancestor, King David. Scripture also says the lambs for sacrifice must not have any blemishes. With that in mind, Rabbinical law said that all Passover sacrifices (sheep/lambs) must be raised within five miles of Jerusalem, which Bethlehem is. A group of Levites were appointed to raise these sheep just outside of Bethlehem near Migdal Eder. They were the shepherds to whom the angels appeared. They were not lowly, uneducated men. They were Torah-trained Levites. They should have made the connection to the Messiah, the Lamb of G-d. Perhaps some did.

A watchtower was built to aid the shepherds in watching for predators, human or animal. These watchtowers were common all over the land. They were also found in vineyards for the same reason. The watchtowers were built of stones and had a covered platform on top where a guard could be posted.

The watchtower of Bethlehem was called Migdal Eder – Watchtower of the Flock. Isn’t it wonderful to know how very accurate our G-d is and that He caused Miriam and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem so Y’shua could be born as predicted and within the limits of the sacrificial lambs? Y’shua is our Passover Lamb and had He NOT been born there, He would not have been eligible as a sacrifice. Every letter of the Law was followed though out His whole life.

G-d thinks of everything and you can be sure He thinks of everything in your life. There are no coincidences. G-d has a reason and a purpose for everything that happens. We can trust Him to take care of us in all situations.

Think of Noah’s ark. It was dimly lit; the inhabitants were most likely sea-sick many times and it must have smelled pretty bad. As bad as it must have been, G-d preserved their lives and we are here because of them and their faith. For Noah and his family, it must have been a terrible year and yet they were the only ones that made it through alive.

Let’s take heart, no matter how bad it gets, G-d has a plan. Let’s trust in Him and keep His commandments. The Word says if we love Him, we will. And it will be worth it all!

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom,
Sharaka
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The Ushpizin, the Guests


The Patriarchs or Shepherds of Israel

It is said a father has no greater joy than to see his sons walk in his ways. The seven great men of Israel all wandered from place to place at one time or another in their lives. They knew the hardships of the nomadic life. It is said they come, in spirit, as special guests to every sukkah to rejoice in the fact that we are still following in ‘their ways’.
(old Jewish tradition…) One after the other taking the lead each night and the others following. It is traditional to welcome the “guest of the evening” by recalling his life and how we may learn from it.
You may want to give them a chair of honor in your sukkah.
They are:

Avraham, who was told to “Go to the place I will show you.”
He represents love and kindness.
Itzchak, (Isaac)”There was a famine in the land and Itzchak went…”
He represents restraint and personal strength.
Ya’acov, (Jacob) “Arise and go…” (when he fled from Esav)
He represents beauty and truth.
Moshe, “(Moses) …and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents eternality and dominance through Torah.
Aharon, (Aaron) “…and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor.
Yosef, (Joseph) was sold for a slave and went to Egypt..
He represents holiness and the spiritual foundation.
David Hamelech, King David) “…when he was in the wilderness.”
… the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
It is a good thing to speak of the good qualities of our fathers. Perhaps this would be a good time to recall the good deeds of your own ancestors and how you can strive to be like them. If nothing else, let us follow in the footsteps of our Messiah and strive, above all, to be like Him. It is good to call in the poor to share in your joy and your bounty at this season. Sukkot was the origin of the first Thanksgiving Day. We are to be thankful and share what we have. In this way, we are following our heroes of old and better yet, we are pleasing our G-d as we recall the good things of the past and look forward to what G-d has promised us in the future.
fjc- ’01

For those of you following the Hillel or traditional Jewish calender –
Chag Sameach! Enjoy your holiday!!! It’s the Season of our joy! “Eat the fat and the sweet and send portions to your friends and family!”

See you nect time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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